How to resign

By Robert Half on 15th November 2017

I quit: 7 ways to say goodbye with tact and grace

If you want to find a new job then there will be a time when you will need to know how to resign from your job. It's very common for professionals to reassess their career choices regularly and set work-related targets for advancing their career.

Some people want to quite their job as they are ambitious to progress and move up the jobs ladder, others are ready for a change of scenery. Some people are just plain fed up and desperate for a move. Whichever way, thousands of UK workers determine this is as good a time as any to make a change.

Having set their sights on securing a new position, plenty will succeed. In a growing economy, employers are eager to hire skilled and experienced candidates. This means there is strong demand for talent in many sectors, and no shortage of options for high-calibre candidates.

Should resigning from your job be a tearful goodbye?

For the top professionals, securing a new job can be the easy part. In some respects, a bigger difficulty may come in plucking up the courage to resign from their current job. Like the end of any relationship, this can be a traumatic experience for both parties - particularly if the process is managed badly.

If you're a crucial member of the team, and have been given plenty of opportunities by your employer, it may be difficult announcing you are heading for the exit door. Having invested in your career development, and identified you as a potential future leader, your boss will no doubt be gutted to see you depart.

Even if you hate the job and can't stand your boss, there are still potential hazards. With a new job offer on the table, how tempting is is to go out in a blaze of glory by quitting on the spot? You might struggle to keep your cool when you resign, and work your notice period as required. But it never does any good to burn bridges in business; you might just need a reference in the future, or run into the same boss again further down the line. You can't afford to leave your job on bad terms - this may come back to haunt you.

How to resign from your job in 7 simple steps

Whatever the nature of your relationship with your employer, it's important to be resign with grace, tact and professionalism. Providing you fulfil your responsibilities, and adhere to resignation convention, there should be nothing to worry about.

Remember, this won't be the first time one of their employees has left - voluntary turnover is a fact of business. Organisations understand it, and they plan accordingly. Your employer may be disappointed, but they have systems in place to oversee the transition when staff members move on.

If you're unsure about how exactly to go about handing your notice in, our seven-point guide can help on how to quit your job:

1. Be certain of your decision

You need to think very carefully before starting to look for a new job, and be sure you are making the right decision. Once you hand in your resignation letter, there may be no turning back. In resigning, you break the bond of trust between yourself and your employer. Should you change your mind, this will be difficult to repair.

Make a list of the reasons you want to leave, and the reasons you might stay. The key question is, will you be better off making a change? A new role could potentially offer new career opportunities, higher pay, more attractive benefits and/or greater job satisfaction - but you have to know what you want and take as long as you need to make a decision.

2. Find another job first

It always makes sense to find a new job before resigning from your current one. Firstly, it reduces the risk of you being left out work without an income. Secondly, it may make you a more attractive proposition to potential employers, if you already have a job.

Candidates who are unemployed when they attend interviews will inevitably face awkward questions on why they left their previous post. It is so much better if your reason for applying is for career advancement, rather than - in the eyes of the interview panel - to simply get back into work.

It could take you a number of weeks or months to find a new job you love. During this period, you need to make every effort to maintain performance levels at work, even if you are attending various job interviews on the side. If your standards slip, it could affect your relationship with your current employer - somebody you do not want to alienate.

3. Tell your boss

Once you've found another job, it's time to come clean. In the first instance, inform your manager orally of your decision to leave. It's often best to do this on a Friday afternoon - this will put distance between you and your employer over the weekend and allow the dust to settle. Should you make your announcement on a Monday morning, or another peak time, it can have a knock-on effect on your team's morale and productivity for the whole week.

Prepare what you are going to say in advance and then stick to it - particularly if you are asked to provide information you'd rather not disclose. You can expect some form of reaction from your boss, unless they were expecting you to resign. In the event they become confrontational, and start questioning your decision to leave, revert to your pre-prepared comments.

It's important to leave this initial meeting on good terms, if at all possible. This means retaining your composure - even if your boss takes the news badly - and trying to focus on the positives of your time with the organisation. The conversation may be awkward, but it is one you need to have.

4. Write a resignation letter

As well as informing your boss in person, you should draft an official letter of resignation. Addressed to your immediate superior, it should include your name, notice to leave, when this is effective from and also your signature. Hand it to them when you give oral notice.

There is scope to add other information to your letter, such as a thank you to your employer. Although not essential, there is no harm in including a short, positive message. However, resist the temptation to air your grievances. Your resignation letter will be kept on file, so it could be a mistake to criticise the company, senior members of staff or your colleagues. If you're desperate to vent, and can't be persuaded otherwise, save this for your exit interview.

5. Ignore the counteroffer

If you are a highly-valued member of staff, your employer may pull out all the stops to try and keep you, knowing how important an asset you are. They may even make a counteroffer, in a bid to dissuade you from leaving. But having come this far - you've found a new job and given notice - why exactly would you consider it?

There are underlying reasons behind your decision to leave, and these are unlikely to change. If your sole concern was your current salary, it would have been far simpler to negotiate a pay rise with your employer weeks or months ago.

The question is, should you ever accept a counteroffer and remain with your current organisation, how long will it be before the same career frustrations arise? By staying put, you might miss a huge opportunity to advance and develop as a professional. Another 12 months down the line, you might just be drafting another letter of resignation. Furthermore, the trust between you and your manager will be broken, and often difficult to repair.

6. Work your notice

It goes without saying that you need to work your notice period, as stated in the terms of your employment contract. The only exception would be if it is mutually beneficial for you and your existing employer to bring your departure date forward. Potentially they may have your replacement lined up, or you may be willing to sacrifice a bonus. The organisation you are joining may even agree some form of financial settlement with your current employer to secure an early release.

Your principal role during your notice period is to ensure the smooth handover of clients, accounts and uncompleted work to your colleagues, or the person taking over your role. Unless the transition is seamless, you're in danger of leaving a negative last impression - one which will stay with your former managers and colleagues for good. So be as thorough as possible and think about every detail, otherwise your legacy could be tarnished.

7. Attend an exit interview

You may be invited to an exit interview towards the end of your notice period. Make sure you attend this, and try to be as cooperative as possible during the Q&A session. Your employer will want to know more about your decision to leave, and your perceptions of their organisation as a whole. By all means offer constructive suggestions as to how things could work better, but resist the urge to be overtly critical if you can.

Robert Half is a leading IT recruitment agency. Send your CV to a specialist technology consultant or if you are looking to hire a developer tell us your hiring needs.

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